The Carlmont baseball team has battled through adversity all year. Three weeks ago, following an eight-inning, 6-4 loss to Burlingame, the Scots were three games back of first place.
But the Scots stayed in it. They beat Burlingame in the second game of the series, which ignited a four-game winning streak and pulled them into a three-way tie with the Panthers and Menlo School going into the final week of the season.
Carlmont extended the streak to five games following Tuesday’s win over Terra Nova and Thursday, the Scots traveled to Pacifica with a chance to claim at least a share of the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division title.
But the Scots arrived late to the game because the bus that was supposed to take the team over the hill never arrived. The Carlmont administration wrestled up some vans and got the team to the coast with about 40 minutes before game time.
“We’re being tested before the game even starts,” said Carlmont manager Rich Vallero.
When they did take the field, it was Aiden Woodring who took the mound. The junior lefty hadn’t seen much action this season. He started the season opener and he and the Scots got shelled by Mission San Jose-Fremont, 10-0. He went on to work mostly out of the bullpen until getting his second start and winning a 15-5 decision over Sacred Heart Prep last week.
But when Woodring walked off the mound after six innings, he did so having surrendered one hit. David Bedrosian came in to pitch an eventful seventh to give the Scots a 7-2 victory.
That, coupled with Burlingame’s 2-1 win over Menlo, gave Carlmont (10-4 PAL Bay, 16-10 overall) the Bay Division championship, the program’s sixth in seven years.
“I’ve watched [Woodring] evolve,” Vallero said. “We had a heart-to-heart (earlier in the season) and got on the same page. … And he’s taken off since.”
Woodring’s opening batter did not portend the type of game he was going to have as he served up a four-pitch walk to Terra Nova (3-11, 7-17) leadoff hitter Joey Gentile. Spencer Karalius followed and reached on a fielder’s choice, with Gentile being forced out at second, but Woodring got a couple of flyout to end the inning.
It also started a string of 11 straight batters retired. The Tigers did not get another baserunner until a Jonas Sunga walk to lead off the fifth. He also walked Josh Catalino, but got out of the inning with the no-no intact.
He struckout the first batter to start the sixth before hitting Gentile with a pitch. Karalius came up and after getting ahead of Woodring, punched a 2-1 pitch past shortstop and into left field to break up the no-hit bid.
“I never go in (to a game) thinking no-hitter,” Vallero said. “I’m just a big feel guy and in my gut I just felt [Woodring] was going to have a good game.”
As with most near and completed no-hitters, there were some defensive gems that kept the hope alive. In the third, Terra Nova’s Jericho Nojadera sliced a foul ball down the left-field line. Carlmont leftfielder Jasper Loo, who was playing well off the line, came flying over and made a head-long dive to snatch the ball inches off the ground.
In the fifth, Woodring helped his own cause. After walking back-to-back batters to open the inning, the third batter was looking to put down a sacrifice bunt. He popped the ball into the air and Woodring bounced off the mound to catch it. He then threw to first to double up the runner. A flyout to right ended the threat.
Terra Nova starter Jeremy Keller, however, was nearly as effective as Woodring, but the Scots put him in a hole right away by scoring three runs in the top of the first.
With one out and Bedrosian on first via a fielder’s choice, Tyler DeSmidt came up and went the opposite way to right for an RBI double. Jake Robinson followed with a single to put runners at the corners before Daniel Friis cleared the bases with a booming double to center to put the Scots up 3-0.
“The fact we had a dog fight Wednesday (a 5-3 Carlmont win) meant they’d come into Friday focused.”
But Keller settled in and held the Scots without a hit until they got to him with four runs in the sixth.
But in the sixth, the Scots opened things up and got some breathing room as they sent nine batters to the plate, knocking Keller out in the process. DeSmidt opened the inning with his second double of the game. Pinch hitter Ryan Busser came up and bunted a pitch back to Keller, who tried to throw DeSmidt out at third and instead threw the ball away, allowing DeSmidt to score. Logan Snow and Sean Vanderaa later added RBI singles and J.P. Avila scored on an error to go up 7-0.
Gentile would score Terra Nova’s first run on an error and Keller drove in the Tigers’ second run with their second hit.
Up next for the Scots is the CCS playoffs and, unlike previous years, the Bay champion is not automatically slotted into the Open Division. Vallero said it is his understanding that the various league representatives, including himself, will get together before the CCS selection meeting Saturday to seed the top eight teams into the Open Division.
“An ‘A’ team is not automatically going into the Open. This is what I understand,” Vallero said.